Watch an archive of webinar sessions from our 10th Organic Seed Growers Conference held February 12–15, 2020, in Corvallis, Oregon. This webinar series includes the sessions listed below.
Accessing Agrobiodiversity: Practical Knowledge for Finding and Using Rare Seeds
Despite staggering losses in crop diversity over the past century — from commercial varieties falling out of favor to crop wild relatives lost to habitat destruction — the world is still home to a great diversity of plants relevant to agriculture (collectively known as “agrobiodiversity”). Between traditional farming communities, public and private seedbanks, garden-scale seed savers, and wild and feral plant populations, a wide array of crop plants are still available to people who work with seed. Learn practical tools and strategies from farmer-breeders, public breeders, and regional seed companies on how to find and access novel and diverse germplasm through formal and informal networks and collections. Discussions will include issues related to seed importation and recognition of sources of origin, including respect for farmers’ and breeders’ rights in using these plant genetic resources.
- Part 1: Ester Casas Griera, Les Refrardes Coop
- Part 2: Sarah Kleeger, Adaptive Seeds
- Part 3: Nate Kleinman, Experimental Farm Network
- Part 4: Phil Simon, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USDA ARS
Organic farming needs diversity at all levels and especially in seed. However, modern breeding for many crops is focused on creating very uniform and homogeneous varieties. Some organic breeders, farmers, and seed networks are working to counter this trend by consciously breeding for genetic diversity across and within crop types and varieties. Learn from the experience of several breeding initiatives, organic farmers, and researchers who are working to create genetically diversified populations through different strategies to stimulate adaptation. Several initiatives are also working in the European context where in spite of regulatory constraints farmers have organized networks and community seed banks to collectively manage landraces, local varieties, and their newly bred populations. Presenters will share the models and outcomes of two European projects – Dynaversity and Let’s Liberate Diversity – as well as applied, practical breeding strategies to conserve and expand diversity.
- Part 1: Véronique Chable, INRAE
- Part 2: Joseph Lofthouse, Lofthouse Seeds
- Part 3: Estelle Serpolay, ITAB presented by Véronique Chable
Stepping Up Biennial Seed Production
Producing biennial seed crops is challenging for seed growers in many climates. This workshop is designed to help seed growers gain confidence and skills in biennial seed crop production. A panel of presenters will dig into the details of handling specific crops in different climatic conditions while offering tips on storage, timing of planting, the optimum size, and protecting crops through winter. This session will combine a presentation format with group discussion at the end so participants can learn from others’ experiences.
- Part 1: Beth Corymb Clark, Meadowlark Hearth
- Part 2: Laurie McKenzie, Organic Seed Alliance
- Part 3: Petra Page-Mann, Fruition Seeds
Small Scale Contract Seed Production Roundtable
Seed production can be an enticing way to diversify your operation’s income streams, workload, and overall crop diversity. However, at any scale, seed production is a niche market with its own slate of unique challenges. Navigating production contracts is a particular challenge, especially for growers who are just getting started. This session will cover different approaches to running a seed business from experienced producers and business owners. From small-scale seed growers to larger operations growing on contract for seed companies, we’ll hear from growers and seed companies about their experiences in this complex business that leverages diverse skill sets to share what they have learned about their model of doing business.
- Part 1: Beth Ragorshek, Canyon Bounty Farms
- Part 2: Nikos Kavanya, Fedco Seeds
- Part 3: Karl Sutton, Fresh Roots Farm
Seed Economics: Balancing Passion and Profit
Seed growing holds immeasurable value – from the empowerment of adapting crops to thrive in a region to the urgent need for genetic and cultural preservation to the potential for increasing on-farm habitat. For many growers seed is a calling and makes agronomic sense in a diverse farming system, but the economics of seed must also be considered to ensure economic sustainability. This session will share tools developed by an agricultural economist working with farmers to track production costs and assess profitability. Panelists will include experienced and beginning seed producers across a range of crops, scales, geographies, and business models. Discussion will focus on how to use economic tools to make decisions in seed production and how these growers balance their assessment of the economic, environmental, and personal values of growing seed on farm. This moderated panel will include ample time for audience questions and honest exploration of the challenges and rewards of life as a seed grower.